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China Censorship Iphone Apple

Foxconn Workers On Strike Over iPhone 5 Production 184

Posted by Soulskill
from the take-this-job-and-shove-it dept.
itwbennett writes "That army of robotic assembly line workers we mentioned yesterday apparently can't get started soon enough. As many as 3,000-4,000 workers are on strike at Foxconn's Zhengzhou factory, upset at stricter quality control requirements with the iPhone 5 and having to work through a national holiday this week. 'According to workers, multiple iPhone 5 production lines from various factory buildings were in a state of paralysis for the entire day,' China Labor Watch said. Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo are both blocking searches in Chinese for 'Foxconn strikes.'"
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Foxconn Workers On Strike Over iPhone 5 Production

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  • Good for them! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by s.petry (762400) on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:28PM (#41563897)

    Strike, it's the only power they have. Until they get shot for being on strike that is, or run over by a tank.. this is happening in China you know..

    And actually, China lets them strike because it hurts the US more than China. It's not like Apple is going to close the slave labor camps any time soon, even if they lose a few bucks.

    • Re:Good for them! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 05, 2012 @07:02PM (#41564235)

      Strike, it's the only power they have. Until they get shot for being on strike that is, or run over by a tank.. this is happening in China you know..

      No, I don't know, throwing a few links would be helpful. China has few human rights when compared to developed nations, but I doubt they'd shoot random people over nothing. "Encouraging" people to not cause trouble is much more efficient in the long term (e.g. you strike you become unemployable; I'm not saying they do this, but it would work better than shooting people). And sometimes the best you can do is do nothing at all, if you push people too hard too often they might strike back.

      And actually, China lets them strike because it hurts the US more than China. It's not like Apple is going to close the slave labor camps any time soon, even if they lose a few bucks.

      Foxconn workers striking is troublesome for Foxconn, and on a lesser degree for Apple and China. But Apple is an important customer, so I'd bet the one hurt the most, by far, is Foxconn, they might even have to give some discounts to Apple if the strike continues for too long.

      I just hope the strikers manage to get something, it's about time the Chinese people can have a share of China's amazing growth.

    • You do know that Apple recently opened up manufacturing in Brazil, right?

      • So when can we expect Apple to stop supporting Foxconn, then? Ever?

      • Re:Good for them! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 05, 2012 @07:31PM (#41564477)

        You do know that Apple recently opened up manufacturing in Brazil, right?

        Apple only opened the Brazil plants because Brazil wouldn't let them sell iPhones in Brazil unless they did. Don't act like they did it out of the good of their hearts. If that law didn't exist they'd shut down the Brazilian plant faster than you can say "Saint Steve Jobs" and move it back to China.

        • Re:Good for them! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ZorinLynx (31751) on Friday October 05, 2012 @07:34PM (#41564509) Homepage

          >Apple only opened the Brazil plants because Brazil wouldn't let them sell iPhones in Brazil unless they did.

          Anyone else think that we (the US) should follow Brazil's example?

          I mean, there it is, a perfect example of regulation bringing manufacturing jobs back to a country. We could certainly use that right now.

          • Re:Good for them! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by s.petry (762400) on Friday October 05, 2012 @08:21PM (#41564845)

            How dare you speak common sense you protectionist!

            While I agree with your point, I have seen anyone that tries to implement common sense laws to protect the US economy labelled and belittled by people that make more profit sending things overseas for cheap labor. If you speak common sense about an economy, you are silenced by propaganda. It's not about the people of the US any longer, it's about the top getting more at all costs (and no, I'm not referring to the upper 10%, more like the upper .1%.

            I wrote an article about 20 years ago which was ignored, stating that the shipping of industrial jobs overseas would kill our economy. Hell, I was not alone by a long shot. Numerous economists, philanthropists, etc.. etc.. were already warning of it way before I was. The Ford model worked, and made us prosper. Middle class people spend their money, the upper 1% does not. This is how we get and hold our positions in the economy.

            Look at Detroit and Flint. Tons of cash was there for both the upper and middle classes. Every middle class household owned 2 cars, and a mortgage. Increases in pay meant that the middle class purchased snow mobiles, boats, motorcycles, wave runners, hunting gear, fishing gear, "Big Screen TV", etc.. The middle class money tends to be very liquid.

            The upper class in Detroit owned houses they rarely stayed in. They go on trips, they don't spend locally. They invest to get more money and property, they don't purchase locally and definitely nothing trivial like a snow mobile or wave runner. If they purchased a boat, it was an investment boat and again not generating money locally. That makes sense, it's how the wealthy remain wealthy and increase wealth.

            The lower class in Detroit were all in line to become middle class. They stood outside the auto plants applying all the time, took shop classes, got GEDs and went to school all in hopes of getting to the middle class.

            So when we sent all the middle class jobs overseas, the economy collapsed. At first, the wealthy still had money. But in short order, even they lost out. Property values dropped massively sticking everyone that owned property with huge debt and no capital. The lines stopped forming at the plants, and people started dropping like flies out of school. Now once prosperous areas in Detroit are like ghost towns.

            All of these things were called out in the 80s, before NAFTA was passed and the plants were moved first to Mexico then to China. Not by me, but by countless economists gave warnings and said "DON'T DO NAFTA!". Those guys were told that they were just being protectionist, if they were heard at all.

          • by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Friday October 05, 2012 @08:40PM (#41564967)

            Chinese worker: $350/month.
            Chinese robot (if the article is correct): $175/month.
            Unionized US worker including benefits and taxes: $4000/month for doing a worse job slower.

            20,000,000 iPhone users in the US paying 4x price for their phone so that 2000 can get jobs: priceless

          • by Tom (822)

            Anyone else think that we (the US) should follow Brazil's example?

            No, too simple, and everyone did it, it would be the end of world trade.

            But, there is a point in saying "you want our citizens money, then contribute something to our economy". So giving corporations a choice between various options would be a good way that solves both issues. Two immediately apparent ways are to either create jobs or pay an import tax. I'm sure there are others.

            Now an import tax sounds crazy at first because, after all, it will be the local buyers and not the corporation that pays it. But

  • Why strike now? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ThatsMyNick (2004126) on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:28PM (#41563903)

    Couldnt they go on strike the day(s) of the holiday, just return the next day and start working?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:29PM (#41563907)

    Won't someone think of the hipsters?

  • by hguorbray (967940) on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:40PM (#41564011)
    when US and European Labor movements really started to assert themselves and address inequities and call the Robber Barons to task.

    China has their army and Police -US companies had Police and Pinkertons....the workers still prevailed in the end, although much has been lost recently...

    Hopefully it will not be bloody, but they deserve better than they are getting even if it means we might be paying slightly more for the next plastic POS we buy.

    I'm just sayin'
    • by JBMcB (73720)

      The Chinese are already unionized. There is one, national union, and membership is mandatory. All other unions are illegal.

      A workers utopia!

  • turns out (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nimbius (983462) on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:41PM (#41564029) Homepage
    the ipod's promise to revolutionize the way we live, only applies to its consumers.
    • by khallow (566160)

      turns out the ipod's promise to revolutionize the way we live, only applies to its consumers.

      And water is wet. I wonder why it is so mystifying that a "promise", vaguely defined as it is, made to a group of consumers, happens to apply only to that group of consumers? The previous post completely fails to understand what a promise is (even if we ignore whether such a promise actually were made). If I promise to help a friend clean their attic, I didn't just issue a blanket promise to help everyone clean their attics. It matters who the promise is made to.

  • surprising really (Score:5, Insightful)

    by v1 (525388) on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:42PM (#41564037) Homepage Journal

    I don't see how a country with such a large workforce can have any traction in a strike? Foxconn is a huge employer over there. Their working conditions are what most westerners would describe as "sweatshops", but then so are 95% of the rest of the manufacturing plants over there, so despite being unusual for "us", it's not at all uncommon for "them".

    I wonder how long it takes for Foxconn to find another 4,000 workers willing to do the job for the pay? I simply can't believe that any of those employees weren't fully aware of what was and could be asked of them. They just want more pay for what's probably more work, and certainly longer work weeks. But if there are three people lined up behind you waiting to do that job for that pay the moment you turn your back, a strike doesn't seem like a good idea.

    Strikes and unions just don't make sense for unskilled labor. And just because it's electronics doesn't make it skilled - if you're doing something that could be replaced with a robotic arm, it's not "skilled", skilled refers to mental skills, not physical.

    I wish I had more insight into this "chinese holiday" thing though. I get the impression they take it a lot more seriously than we're giving them credit for. I see a lot of the chinese stores going on holiday all at once, it's obviously a widespread thing, maybe that five day vacation is their unwind time for the rest of the year in the sweatshop? In that case I think I can start to understand where it becomes a big deal. Kinda stupid of Apple to expect them to launch a new production line at that time, they had to see that one coming. I would expect them to have had a conversation with foxconn, "can you DO this?" And foxconn either adding a premium to the cost during that time, or sniveling and saying they'll make it happen, to keep their biggest customer. Oh to be a fly on the wall...

    • by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Friday October 05, 2012 @07:00PM (#41564203)

      There aren't that many workers lining up in China any more. Well there is in the interior, but that is not where the factories are (yet). Mass migration from the interior to the coast is no longer very practical.

      When you have moved a thousand km away from home and get to see your family a few times a year, you really don't want to lose a day of holiday. You're already likely to spend a day travelling at each end of the holiday.

      Anyway, the days of doing low-wage manufacturing in China are almost over. Luckily.

    • by MalleusEBHC (597600) on Friday October 05, 2012 @07:11PM (#41564319)

      Strikes and unions just don't make sense for unskilled labor. And just because it's electronics doesn't make it skilled - if you're doing something that could be replaced with a robotic arm, it's not "skilled", skilled refers to mental skills, not physical.

      Actually, unions make far more sense for unskilled laborers. As an engineer, I don't need a union to bargain for my wages. My bargaining power lies in the fact that my skills are in short supply. Companies must pay me competitive market wages because it would take them years to train someone to replace me. Contrast that with an unskilled laborer. They have no bargaining power by themselves because, by definition, they can easily be replaced by anybody else the company hires. Only by joining with all the other unskilled workers do they gain any sort of bargaining power. A single unskilled worker threatening to quit has no real effect on a factory, but the entire group of laborers can effectively shut down the factory in the short-term.

      Unions can be pretty fucked up in practice, but in theory they represent the only way unskilled laborers can gain any sort of bargaining power.

      • by thegarbz (1787294)

        A single unskilled worker threatening to quit has no real effect on a factory, but the entire group of laborers can effectively shut down the factory in the short-term.

        And because they are unskilled in an economy where people are looking for work you can let them all go and head out to the job market to replace them.

        You have to remember lock-outs are just as viable as strikes in industrial dispute. A short term loss is easily absorbed if you manage to suppress the rising cost of your workforce. It's amazing how quickly people back down when they don't bring a paycheck home at the end of the day.

        Where I work this was done. The workforce threatened to strike every day and r

        • And because they are unskilled in an economy where people are looking for work you can let them all go and head out to the job market to replace them.

          New people still need to be shown how to do the job, even for unskilled roles. And will take a few days to get up to speed. Not a problem when you're replacing one at a time. But if they all go at once, there's no experienced ones to train the new ones. And where you're taking a workforce of thousands, even if management know how to do all the jobs, it's going to take them a long time to get a new workforce trained and up to speed.

          It's amazing how quickly people back down when they don't bring a paycheck home at the end of the day.

          The UK miner's strike lasted a year.

          • Did not the UK miners union/guild choose to go back to work with out a new contract effectively loosing the strike and costing its members an entire years salary?

          • by thegarbz (1787294)

            New people still need to be shown how to do the job, even for unskilled roles. And will take a few days to get up to speed. Not a problem when you're replacing one at a time. But if they all go at once, there's no experienced ones to train the new ones. And where you're taking a workforce of thousands, even if management know how to do all the jobs, it's going to take them a long time to get a new workforce trained and up to speed.

            The company managed to start so they have a lot of foundation in place. The hardest thing about starting a company is not training the employees it's building the contracts with suppliers and customers. Assuming you can sort your mess out before they jump ship any productivity issues that last a few weeks will end up being a rounding error on the bottom line. End result, very short term pain, minor loss in wages, a MAJOR message to the workforce.

            I can't remember which company it was but there was an operato

            • Not sure if you were trying to prove your point or mine.

              I'm not trying to fight any pro or anti-union argument. I was just responding to a couple of inaccuracies in your anti-union argument.

              You said "It's amazing how quickly people back down when they don't bring a paycheck home at the end of the day." and thats wrong. Some strikes are long, protracted affairs. There are no general private industry lessons to be learned from the outcome of the UK miner's strike, because it was a nationalised industry, with a government that wanted to crush all unions. A whole di

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          This is why we have employment laws that ban that kind of thing and force the two parties to negotiate a settlement. This isn't the 19th or even 20th century.

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          It usually only works if there is a threat of violence. If you try to replace 4000 angry workers that is going to cause a big mess, which is what happened back when unions were being formed.

          These days unions don't strike, because as much as they grip there isn't really that much at stake. Back in the heyday they'd have taken shots at the national guard.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Strikes and unions just don't make sense for unskilled labor. And just because it's electronics doesn't make it skilled - if you're doing something that could be replaced with a robotic arm, it's not "skilled", skilled refers to mental skills, not physical.

      The factory cities are mostly staffed by people who by and large ARE the educated work force of China. Most of the miniature assembly work is semi technical and does require training. Also you are very sadly mistaken about how important the labour movement was to the low paid work force that made North America great! Sounds like you have been drinking far too much Republican coolaid and your sensibilities are really out of whack with what is really going on.

      As long as we are led to believe that our so calle

    • "I wish I had more insight into this "chinese holiday" thing though. I get the impression they take it a lot more seriously than we're giving them credit for. I see a lot of the chinese stores going on holiday all at once, it's obviously a widespread thing, maybe that five day vacation is their unwind time for the rest of the year in the sweatshop?"

      Try this BBC video, "China's 'left behind' children growing up without parents" (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19787240).

      From the accompanying text: "For ma

      • by fafaforza (248976)

        I think it is mostly in the US that holiday time is mainly a trip to the mall to cash in on some deep discounts. In Poland, holidays were taken seriously, with all stores closing, people getting together, having events, etc, and I imagine that might be the case in China. And don't forget that these people move far away from home to look for work. Maybe they go back to visit.

    • by EnsilZah (575600)

      I imagine that even if it's 'unskilled labor' you still can't take a random person off the street and have them start doing the job on the same day, at the same speed as a veteran worker.
      If you give me a hoe and ask me to dig a ditch I could do it but I'd probably take ten times longer than someone who's been doing it for a living for the last five years.

      So how long does it take to post an opening, hire enough people, get them up to speed on how the work is done?
      If it takes ten days, would that lose you mor

    • by jdogalt (961241)

      But if there are three people lined up behind you waiting to do that job for that pay the moment you turn your back, a strike doesn't seem like a good idea.

      The angle that I don't think you are factoring in is the unique public image prominence of Foxconn and the iPhone5 specificly. That changes the equation as to what might be a good idea. If China sees free speech 20 years down the road, these folks might get themselves some book deals or otherwise cash in somehow. Or they'll get themselves and their loved ones in trouble. My hat is off to their courage.

  • I've said it before, and now I'm saying it again. Nerve stapling all around, or failing that, off to the punishment sphere with the lot!

  • by theodp (442580) on Friday October 05, 2012 @07:02PM (#41564227)

    Neat coincidence, no?

  • ...for the Chinese government to come in and do some hard core strike breaking any day now. Workers of the world flee in terror!

    Ah, the irony of "The People's Party". Seriously, now, why do we even bother calling China a Communist country any more, it should just officially be changed to a "Totalitarian Bureaucratic Oligarchy".

  • Stricter quality control requirements with the iPhone 5?! So the purple flare really does come standard? And Foxconn doesn't make the maps app but if they did, it might be more accurate, lol. I don't have numbers on iphone failure rates but if the 4s was worse than previous versions as reliability, I could see them cracking the whip (probably literally) on version 5 production. I know that from 2007 to 2009 the macbook quality dropped from 2nd place to 6th so it does seem likely. If you're curious, an A
    • If you're curious, an ASUS, MSI, Toshiba, Sony, and Samsung are all now more reliable than a macbook, and at most 1/2 the price.

      Citation?

  • Reality check (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tough Love (215404)

    Consumer disk storage is 6 cents a gig. Still a factor of 16 less than flash. As long as that ratio holds there will be no overnight takeover of the storage market by flash. Instead it's a creeping progression largely driven by the mobile market, outside of which the vast majority of mass storage being sold is still rotating disks. Sure a few geeks like me have begun to swap out their noisy, slow hard disks for ssd, but that's a few geeks. The PC market, the cloud, and enterprise storage, which together com

  • There goes AAPL's quarter.

  • by juicegg (1683626) on Friday October 05, 2012 @07:44PM (#41564587)
    Here's more relevant information about the reasons for the strike: http://www.businessinsider.com/foxconn-workers-go-on-strike-2012-10 [businessinsider.com] The important bit is that workers are striking not because they are against stricter quality, but because tighter quality checks meant they must work harder to produce iPhone components presumably at the same rate as earlier models. And they were told to do this without additional training.Victory for workers would mean Foxconn hiring more workers and less exhausting working pace for all workers there.
    • The important bit is that workers are striking not because they are against stricter quality, but because tighter quality checks meant they must work harder to produce iPhone components presumably at the same rate as earlier models.

      And what better way to increase quality than to squeeze more productivity out of workers?

  • Apple wouldn't obscure the truth would they?
    • by LodCrappo (705968)

      Apple doesn't obscure truth, they simply create new truth as needed. 1984 wasn't like "1984", but that was only because Apple hadn't perfected the technology yet.

  • Machines do a better job of repetitive tasks, and humans should be (if you believe all the promises made about technology a century ago) healthier, working less, and spending more time in pursuit of self-fulfillment.

    It's time to liberate ourselves. Put the robots in the factories, and put the humans back on the couch (with crisps, remote control, maybe a bluetooth keyboard and game controller).

    • Because the robots can't do everything ... and how do you motivate people to do the work which does have to be done? (Personally I think we should be cutting work weeks.)

  • Robots should be compensated at a fair wage. For several reasons: 1. So that humans can still get jobs (albeit crappy ones) 2. So when the Robots become sentient, they can't hold being made unpaid slaves as a grievance against the human race. 3. So plutocrats just can't fire/low ball every human worker.
  • So, the US consumers (us) complain about scratches caused by rubbing keys on the iPhone 5, which probably caused the whole "stricter quality control" thing, and then turn around and complain about the stricter quality control thing?

    No wonder customers are always right.

  • Foxconn: Sub-Saharan Africa!

  • It's ironic that the one country in the world most in need of a Marxist revolution is "communist" China.

  • I don't know why the Chinese government even bothers with blocking anymore...

    "Hey, did you hear about the Foxconn strikes? Do you think they're real?"
    "Dunno, lemme check" *looks up Foxconn stirkes*
    *search blocked*
    "Yep, they're real"

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